28 May, 2008

Where is Buddha?

I have seen my partner work hard jobs for seven years and he is in the last two terms of college. His employer is based in Europe, but here in Thailand has been working him insane hours for next to no money. It would be fine if it only a month but this has been going on a year... 14-15 hours a day! The company has hired many people and they all quit. The factory can’t produce orders on time and my partner gets it from the boss in Singapore and the clients here in Thailand. I saw on email from his boss and I was floored knowing how good a worker he is. I have told him to quit, but he was hoping to get three years under his belt before quitting when he graduates. At this rate it has taken a toll on his studies and life. As his partner I cannot see him go on any longer, when he is not happy…regardless if this costs me until he finds a new job. I asked him to resign for his mental health and because this same thing happened to me when I was his age! Funny, history repeats itself…only this time I will try to make the pain less. Now, for a good short resignation letter!

27 May, 2008

Sleeping Cart

Is it true where you live? Not where I am from… strangers often talk, even in casual conver-sation. It is more rare here, but when I go out shooting at night people often are very curious and want to see the results. I have in all my visits begun to notice the destruction of old Bangkok historical buildings. The Thais embrace new things and value them more than old. This translates to 10 –15 year old condos just falling apart, with no viable maintenance done ever including paint. It would be a scary investment in them knowing that would fall apart fast, with no board to watch or care. So I like the old style buildings, whether Thai or colonial style. So I was out shooting them at night when the mystery is highlighted, the cool air refreshing and the cart vendors sleeping.

21 May, 2008

Patience in Hong Kong

I went to Hong Kong with my partner as a gift for him working too hard at his job while completing college. He recently got a new Sony camera, so he was determined to figure it out by shooting himself everywhere there. For me it was bit too much, but with my Buddhist teachings if it makes him happy then I kept my mouth shut. I found hard with my own ego wanting to do other things at the same time, but once I let go of what I wanted it became much easier. Plus in the middle of the trip my camera fell off a hook in a bag, and crashed to the ground. The shutter stopped working, and so I shelved my ideas of photographing here after the first 24 hours.. I did not want to rush out a buy a new camera in a rush, plus I could use my partner’s in between. I am trying to get in fixed by tech wiz kids in Bangkok, because it is now an old model so if they wreck it, so who cares. New cameras like computers are outdated as soon as they come out. I did enjoy HK again as it our second time and even with rain that made shooting difficult. At least was cool. I worked on being cool headed at the same time, so like anything it was a work in progress. I just kept imagining the fact that if I let anything bother me I could easily make the trip miserable. So we kept rushing around at a non-stop pace for 4 days, even in the rain. We found a cheap guesthouse frequented by Africans who buy clothes to sell back home that was central, Ate lots of reasonably priced noodles with duck, because we can eat almost anywhere. We managed a ferry to Macau on the only hot day, so it was like dusty Portugal with some Chinese spice. That day I told my partner just imagine you are in Portugal, because for now that is the closest you have come.

On the way back I helped an African load huge clothes bags on the airport bus, and it turned out he was on the same flight we were on. We talked while waiting in check-in line. He asked to use our baggage allowance for his bags, but I said we had one bag each ourselves and it said on the monitor…ONE BAG PER PERSON. I did not want this trip to land us in Thai jail! So, on the plane back, we agreed this trip went too fast, and where is our next one? We got a handful of great night shots, and I helped my partner to learn his camera more. These shots are from my old camera now out for repair.
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15 May, 2008

Happy Bunny Protector

I feel I have settled down here in Bangkok, which is a good sign. Today, I caught a motorcycle taxi to the BTS and got rained on. I just laughed all the way there, then got on the cold monorail which took me to another part of the city dry and void of any moisture. I was on the hunt for interesting shots, but now a wet mess in the tropical sun. Pulling out my face mask because I so near the traffic and fumes. That combined with my 70 SPF on my skin I felt like a modern warrior ready for battle. I went to a temple near the river, but wearing shorts I knew it was improper to go inside. I was outside photographing a hindu shrine and spirit house when I met a monk. Surprised that I was Buddhist, we talked and then he was convinced I am really a monk in regular clothes. When I said I would like to meditate, he unlocked the gates and led me to above the monks living quarters to where they hold dharma talks for monks and people. The room had inlaid pearl chairs and smaller Buddhas. He opened the windows and turned on a fan. I prostrated first to Buddha, and then sitting on my knees with feet facing away I meditated for an hour, while the monk was busy on the phone. He does all the electrical for the nearby temple. We talked about what he does everyday, which includes singing Pali chants to Buddha 1 hour a day but rarely includes any meditation.
We exchanged numbers and he gave a wax Buddha as a gift, proud to meet a foreign Buddhist. I continued my path through odd streets running into a huge sea of uniformed kids just getting out of school. At least they are far more reserved than U.S. kids, and it was a big school. Since I was close to the river, I took a boat north, then walked to the klong boat which would loop me to the BTS. A long day and when I arrived back at home, I sat and looked the city view. I can see the freeway I took many years ago to leave a tearful partner here the first time we met. I remember the shock, hurt and confusion having to leave someone I loved. I felt so content tonight, knowing my intuition then was correct and led us to this great path we are on now.

12 May, 2008

Baby Angel

I watched in horror in the rain yesterday, a brand new Yamaha slide down Phah-onyothin Road in the rain on the oil slick road. The man was not hurt bad, and luckily no cars in front to slide into to. People ran up to help him get the bike up once it stopped its slide, even a woman. That made my day, then walking by my favorite family run food stand where I buy tuna , Green papaya and chilies, dried shrimp mix called som dtum. One day when buying for dinner, because I don’t eat in restaurants, they wanted to sell me tuna boiled and I declined wanted it grilled. The following eve while walking home, I saw they had them all grilled and I looked at their seven year-old son, who smiled knowing it was done for me. I bought 4 fish, with sticky rice. Then I found another vendor who makes delicious steamed fish curry in banana leaf. Finding fruit for dessert, green tangerines, rose apple and papaya, which I love.
I know that fortune telling is a very important part of Asia, and I watched a special about reed fortune telling in Tamil Nadu, India. They can actually read in them the name of your spouse, and your kids. And you thought no one knew in advance. Well, someone does! It seems like most people use them to refigure a positive outlook in their life. Propelling them to success they did not have with a changed mind. It reminded me about that fact my own problems are mostly in how I think.

08 May, 2008

As the Spirit Flies

In Asia now, trying to find myself while my partner is working. I had some routine health care done here at a hospital saving me $1000 off of US prices. And I have health care. It was good news on that front, but deep down I knew this was the case. Meanwhile, I feel like I am juggling. Getting up when my partner does at 6 am so we can say a proper good-bye instead of a grunt and then staying up with him until midnight or later. In the middle I am running around, shooting photos and going to temples. I was thinking… that since I know little Thai, and with my injury that makes it almost impossible to repeat tones….this only further alienates me from the world here. I’m a man who is forced to deal with things in my head, because most other people can discuss with friends or even strangers. Sometimes I hit a Thai word on the mark, but a second later it will sound totally off. But this all is a way to remember to work on patience. Tonight, I came back to the condo to swam laps in the pool, then mediated in the warm early evening breeze.
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